Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Failed" Presidency

Two months ago, President Barack Obama was hailed as a genius/savior who was going to clean up the mess created by the previous administration, the previous Congresses and the crooks on Wall Street and take us to a new era of post-partisanship and pragmatism where we all could live in golden-hued harmony.

That was then, this is now. After just 60 days in office, the Obama presidency is already being declared a "failure" by many on a suddenly emboldened right and even some on the left.

As job losses have accelerated and the financial markets have plummeted to 25 year lows (though they have picked up some since then), criticism of Obama and his team has mounted. The bailouts of the banks have created a huge populist backlash (though many criticizing the bailouts seemed to be just fine with them when it was Hank Paulson and George Bush doling out the bonus money to AIG, BoA, Citigroup and the like) and the AIG bonus money furor has people wondering just what President Merit Pay and his Treasury team were thinking when they okayed TARP money for bonuses.

Ordinarily I would say the criticism from the right is plain hypocrisy and start looking for instances in the past when the Eric Cantors and James Inhofes went on record saying it's socialism to have the government limit executive compensation even when those same executives work for companies that have lost hundreds of billions of dollars and have needed government money to survive. And believe me, a 15 second Google search will bring those quotes up for you lickety split.

But frankly, I've had with President Merit Pay and his administration too. The tone deafness over the AIG bonuses is just the latest example of why the supposedly "liberal" Obama is at core little different from the "conservative" he replaced.

Here are the latest examples:

On education, president Merit Pay wants to set up a bonus compensation system quite similar to Wall Street's in order to "reform" education. How'd that work on Wall Street, Bam?

On health care, after saying he wouldn't tax people who already have health care benefits to pay for people who don't, the administration has reversed course and said they are open to exactly that if that's what they need to do to get health care passed. How's that for taking care of the working and middle classes?

On the bailout, this president and his clueless Secretary of the Treasury have handed out as much or more free money to failed financial institutions and Wall Street crooks as the previous preznut and his crooked ex-Goldman employee who ran the Treasury Department under him. If Obama had wanted to stop bonuses like the ones paid out to AIG, he could have done so as soon as he stepped into the office. But he didn't make any such executive order. The argument people in the Treasury Department are making in defense of this policy is that they're more focused on preventing a financial meltdown then saving a few billion in bonus money. That defense is ludicrous on the face of it. If this is how the system is set up, maybe we NEED it to melt down - for too long, the crooks and predators in the financial sector have been excessively compensated for doing nothing more than pushing paper around and finding new ways to con people out of their money (and it would have been worse if they had gotten their Social Security reform - reform which President Merit Pay is open to, btw.) We need reform of the entire financial system and keeping with the status quo on compensation sure doesn't engender me with confidence that Treasury Timmeh or President Merit Pay intend to ever take that on.

On the economy, the stimulus bill was horrendous. Where was the money to fix infrastructure, to rebuild roads and bridges and trains and subways? Very little went to such projects and as I take my overcrowded Metro North train in every morning and switch to an even more crowded shuttle train to the West Side to wait for an even more crowded 1 train downtown, I can tell you that I curse the president, the Democratic-led Congress and the scumbags in the Republican Party who ran things for most of the previous eight years for squandering trillions of dollars on bull#$%^ while I take 19th century transportation to work in my 19th century school building. We have fought two wars on the nation's credit card, have added trillions to the national debt and what do we have to show for it? We have no national health care system, the country's infrastructure is falling to pieces, the ports and nuclear facilities remain unsafe and the electronic grid is one thunder storm away from being put out of commission. Welcome to Third World America, everybody! Reagan/Bush-created Clinton/Obama-approved.

Furthermore, the Federal Reserve's plan to reinflate us out of the current economic malaise is going to be a disaster in the years to come. With the trillions of dollars Uncle Ben and President Merit Pay are printing and handing out in bailout money and in buying up "toxic assets" from bank balance sheets, we are looking at 70's style inflation in the coming years that will take whatever money you have left in your 401(k) plan after the bastards at Goldman and AIG looted it and render it worthless. Dunno why Bam seems so intent on sacrificing himself for the sake of these Wall Street fat cats who despise him as a "socialist" (even as the only socialism he is engaging in is providing taxpayer-compensation for them so they can continue to live as Masters of the Universe...) But that's what he's doing with his current fiscal and economic policies. Guarantee you that America is going to REAM him when inflation hits double digits and some Paul Volker has to be brought in to the Fed to raise interest rates to 19% to tame the inflationary dragon.

I know it's only 60 days in. I never expected Merit Pay to clean things up in 60 days. But the tone coming from him and his people, the education, health care, bailout, Federal Reserve and war policies his administration is pursuing, the arrogance with which Merit Pay dismisses the criticism as "Simon Cowellesque," makes me think President Merit Pay just doesn't get it. I know people on the right like to tar him as a "socialist" and people on the left want to see him as one of their own. But after watching him during the campaign and now seeing how he has run the first 60 days, all I see is a guy who wants to triangulate between both sides on every issue, and while he may think he is being pragmatic and post-partisan, it sure seems like he is setting himself, his administration and the country up for failure.

I'm not quite ready to declare him a "failed" president yet. But another couple of weeks like the last few and I will be. As will lots of other Americans. His poll numbers are now down to the high 50's and falling fast. So is confidence in him. And you know what will happen once he falls below 50% - the sharks in Washington and the media establishment will have a feast.

To be frank, maybe they should.

Maybe we need to have both the GOP and the Democratic Party implode and find some alternatives to the current crooks running things. People in both of these parties enabled the last 25 years of crookery and if you look to see who the Bernie Madoffs and the Sir Alan Stanfords gave money to in DC, you'll see Charlie Rangel and Chuck Schumer on the same list as Phil Gramm and George Bush.

And there, I think, is the problem we have, no matter who is in office. They're all crooks, all beholden to the same moneyed interests.

Meet the new bosses, same as the old bosses.
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